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Jane Mallory Birkin OBE (born 14 December 1946) is an English actress, model, singer and film director who lives in Francemarker. She is best known for her duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" with Serge Gainsbourg.

Birkin was born in Londonmarker to David Birkin, a Royal Navy lieutenant-commander and World War II espionage operative, and Judy Campbell, an actress in Noel Coward musicals. Birkin's brother is the screenwriter/director Andrew Birkin. Her first cousin once removed was Freda Dudley Ward, a mistress of Edward VIII while he was Prince of Wales.

Career

Birkin in 1985
Birkin emerged in the Swinging London scene of the 1960s, appearing as one of the models in the 1966 film Blowup. In 1968, Birkin auditioned in France for the lead female role in Slogan. Though she did not speak French, she won the role. She co-starred with Serge Gainsbourg, and duetted with him on the film's theme song — the first of many collaborations between the two.

In 1969, she and Gainsbourg released the duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" ("I love you... nor do I"). Gainsbourg originally wrote the song for Brigitte Bardot. The song caused a scandal for its sexual explicitness, and was banned by radio stations in Italymarker, Spainmarker, and the UKmarker. The song's fame is partly a result of its salacious lyrics, sung in French by both Gainsbourg and Birkin to a background of increasing sexual moans and groans from Birkin and culminating in her simulated orgasm at the song's conclusion.

This UK ban had TV show Top Of The Pops producers in a quandary as they always played the number one single. Controversially, they played the instrumental version which had been recorded by studio musicians Sounds Nice. This version was also a UK number 18 hit under the title of Love At First Sight.

Je t'aime made UK chart history in that on 4 October 1969 and the following week on the 11th. Je T'aime was at two different chart positions even though it is the same song, the same artists, and the same recorded version. The only difference was that they were on different record labels. It was originally released on the Fontana label, but due to its controversy, Fontana withdrew the record which was then released on the Major Minor label. Because there were Fontana singles still in the shops along with the Major Minor release, on 4 October 1969 the Major Minor release was at number 3 and the Fontana single at number 16. Also at that time it was the biggest ever selling single for a completely foreign language record.

Birkin also appeared on Gainsbourg's 1971 album Histoire de Melody Nelson, portraying the Lolita-like protagonist in song and on the cover.

Birkin took a break from acting in 1971-72, but returned as Brigitte Bardot's lover in Don Juan (Or If Don Juan Were a Woman) in 1973. In 1975, she appeared in Gainsbourg's first film, Je t'aime... moi non plus, which created a stir for frank examination of sexual ambiguity. For this performance she was nominated for a Best Actress César Award.

Birkin starred in the Agatha Christie films Death on the Nile (1978) and Evil Under the Sun (1982), and recorded several albums, including Baby Alone in Babylone, Amours des Feintes, Lolita Go Home and Rendez-vous. She won Female Artist of the Year in the 1992 Victoires de la Musique.

She starred in two films directed by Jacques Doillon — as Anne in La fille prodigue (1981) and as Alma in La pirate (1984, nominated for a César Award). This work led to an invitation from Patrice Chéreau to star on stage in La Fausse suivante by Marivaux at Nanterre. After this, she also began to appear frequently on stage in plays and concerts (in France, Japanmarker, the UK and then the U.Smarker).

In 1980 she worked with director Herbert Vesely on Egon Schiele Exzess und Bestrafung, appearing as the mistress of Austrianmarker artist Egon Schiele, played by Mathieu Carrière.

Jacques Rivette collaborated with her for Love on the Ground (1983) and La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Nominated Césars best supporting actress). Additionally, she appeared in Merchant Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998, also used her song "Di Doo Dah") and Merci Docteur Rey (2002), while Le Divorce's end title song featured her singing "L'Anamour", composed by Gainsbourg.

In 2006, she played the title role in Elektra, directed by Philippe Calvario in France.

Birkin's humanitarian interests led her to work with Amnesty International on immigrant welfare and AIDS issues. Birkin has also visited Bosniamarker, Rwandamarker and Palestine, often working with children. In 2001, she was awarded the OBE. She has also been awarded the French Ordre National du Mérite.

She has collaborated with artists such as Feist, Beth Gibbons from Portishead, Bryan Ferry, Brian Molko from Placebo, Franz Ferdinand, Manu Chao, Brett Anderson from Suede, Mickey 3D, Françoise Hardy, Cali, The Divine Comedy, The Magic Numbers, Paolo Conte, Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Benjamin Biolay, Keren Ann, Yann Tiersen, Alain Souchon, Les Negresses Vertes, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, Zazie, MC Solaar, Miossec, Yōsui Inoue, Étienne Daho, Alain Chamfort, Jimmy Rowles, Goran Bregović, Sonny Landreth, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and many others.

Birkin recorded the song "Beauty" on French producer Hector Zazou's 2003 album Strong Currents.

The cover art of Have You Fed the Fish? by singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, (which features her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg on backing vocals), features her image.

Birkin bag

Hermèsmarker named and designed a handbag — the Birkin bag — for her in 1984 (according to one story) after the company's chairman saw her struggling with several bags while boarding an airplane. Although one of their most expensive, the Birkin bag has become one of Hermès' most popular handbags.

Personal life

Birkin was married from 1965 until 1968 to John Barry, an English composer who wrote the musical score to the James Bond movies. Their daughter, the photographer Kate Barry, was born in 1967.

She had a passionate and creative relationship with her mentor Serge Gainsbourg — they met on the set of Slogan. They separated in 1980. Their daughter is actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In 1982 she gave birth to her third daughter, Lou Doillon, from her relationship with the director Jacques Doillon.

Discography



Filmography



References

External links




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